It’s rare that a parent looks at his or her adorable baby slumbering in a cot or cheeky toddler romping around the sandpit and thinks: “I can’t wait until a few years’ time when my baby is a teen and we can have That Chat.” We know what we mean by That Chat, don’t we? The Teen Talk.
While it’s an exciting time, we may not feel as prepared as we’d like. We’re not alone.
Research by Boots UK reveals:
- 1 in 5 parents are unsure about how to start the puberty conversation
- 68% of parents find it difficult to approach puberty topics with their teen, so much so that quarter avoid the #TeenTalk entirely
- 33% of parents wish they could talk more openly with their teens
BritMums is working in a paid relationship with Boots UK and P&G on their #TeenTalk campaign, which aims to help parents be more confident in talking with their teens. You can get additional advice and tips, and learn about special offers on trusted products on the Boots #TeenTalk site (http://www.boots.com/toiletries/teen-talk-).
So, what is the best way to approach the #TeenTalk? Here are BritMums’s six top tips:
Getting started early: Before they are teenagers
1. Don’t wait until they are actual teens. As icky as it seems, the earlier you get your children used to the idea of their bodies changing – and this being natural and normal – the better. As strange as it may seem to bring up the subject of periods with a six- or seven-year-old, teachers that we know say that they regularly have pupils who have their first period at eight or nine. And a fair proportion of these children have no idea what is happening, which can be a scary thing. Likewise, many boys have their first wet dream without knowing about them and can feel ashamed of their soiled pyjamas. Put their minds at ease before the worries appear.
2. Use language that is appropriate. If you’re talking to a seven year old, it’s better to say words that will take the edge off the fear of the unknown: “you may need to bath more often and use deodorant so you don’t smell” rather than “you may find that you sweat profusely causing unpleasant, sometimes even offensive, odour”. Older children can be ready for more sophisticated lanugage. In either case, be straightforward and don’t tiptoe around the subject matter — that can leave children confused rather than enlighted.
When talking to teens or children of any age
3. Get over your own embarrassment. No matter how squeamish we are about doing this, the Teen Talk has to be done. Practise in your head what you will cover and how you will cover certain subjects. Think of ways to introduce the subject – one BritMums contributor decided to browse the sanitary products shelves when out shopping with her two young daughters who, right on cue, asked what they were for….
4. Celebrate! Without resorting to New Age puberty rituals or designing a set of greetings cards, be positive about the changes. The Boots #TeenTalk guide is full of useful information for parents and kids alike, on everything from frequently asked questions to the kinds of products they may want to consider, such as shaving toiletries and deodorants.
5. Preparation, preparation, preparation: If you’re a mother talking to your daughter about puberty, have some self-down-to-earth, even humorous personal anecdotes about the first time you shaved your armpits, for example, or real-world examples of dealing with your period at school. If you’re a dad, talking to his son, try to have a not-too-humiliating riff on when your voice broke.
6. Don’t be afraid to turn to the experts. Life as a teenager has moved on, as have personal-care products and other aspects of being a teen today. It’s a good idea to do a bit of formal research into the subject (thank you, internet!), even brushing up on the biological developments, before you tackle the Teen Talk. Some books might help your child become comfortable with the idea of puberty – such as The Boy’s Body Book written by a professional comedian and nurse, What’s Happening to Me? (for girls and boys), The Girl Guide, Doing It by Hannah Witton (for older kids), and of course classic fiction books like Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? and Forever, by Judy Blume are tried-and-tested tomes that help educate kids while reminding even the embarrassing bits of the teen years are ok.
This post is sponsored by Boots UK and P&G. All tips are BritMums own. Get more information on the #TeenTalk on the Boots UK site, including tips from a “teenologist”. And be sure to pick up your free #TeenTalk guide in Boots shops.
Tell us: What are your tips about having the #TeenTalk?